Feeling More Earthquakes Nowadays? Scientists Say No Need to Worry
Seismologists say it’s a very natural and average pattern, and there’s nothing to worry.
Seismologists say it’s a very natural and average pattern, and there’s nothing to worry.

Feeling More Earthquakes Nowadays? Scientists Say No Need to Worry

“Was that an earthquake?” This question seems to have popped up more frequently than ever in the recent past. But are earthquakes actually growing in frequency, and is there any genuine reason to panic? We try to dig under the surface.

The Earth is Shaking More

Personally, I have experienced more frequent earthquakes in recent years. To check if this is indeed true, we did a quick scroll through a website which records earthquake data. Here’s what we found.

A comparison of earthquakes in the two halves of the past decade. (Design: Aaqib Raza Khan/<b>The Quint</b>)
A comparison of earthquakes in the two halves of the past decade. (Design: Aaqib Raza Khan/The Quint)

The Ecuador earthquake of 16 April was the 16th major earthquake – also the deadliest – this year. It was also the eighth one in April, measuring more than 6.5 on the Richter scale. Here’s a look at the five deadliest earthquakes this year.

Roger Bilham, a seismologist at the University of Colorado, is reported to have issued a warning, claiming current conditions can trigger at least four quakes with magnitudes greater than 8 on the Richter scale.

An earthquake-hit Japan, Kumamoto Prefecture mashiki. (Photo: IANS)
An earthquake-hit Japan, Kumamoto Prefecture mashiki. (Photo: IANS)

Don’t panic, it’s Under Control

While data, observations and a few reports suggest that earthquakes are increasing, experts believe it’s just a phase and is completely natural.

Himalayas, Andes, Pacific – all of them are showing tectonic activities. When will they move, that’s based on probability. There would be at least one time when all these regions show activity at the same time.
Vineet Gahalaut, Director, National Center for Seismology

Then how are we experiencing more earthquakes, if it’s completely average ‘statistically’? Gehlaut attributes it to probability again, saying that it’s by chance all the major earthquakes are striking where there’s dense population. “They are getting reported because people are getting affected, otherwise they would too go unnoticed”, says Gahalaut.

A man cries as he passes by a damaged statue of Lord Buddha in Bhaktapur, a day after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
A man cries as he passes by a damaged statue of Lord Buddha in Bhaktapur, a day after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Dr Pablo J Gonzalez of the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, University of Leeds agrees with Gahalaut. Speaking with The Quint, Gonzalez said, “There is no reason to believe the number of events has increased. It is a statistical fluctuation of a highly non-linear process that we still consider normal.”

There is no reason to believe the number of events has increased. It is a statistical fluctuation...
Dr Pablo J Gonzalez, Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, University of Leeds

Scientists also believe that it’s not earthquakes, but our awareness that has increased. “There is no increase in the frequency of earthquakes of this size in recent years. What has changed in recent years is the widespread availability of the internet, which has increased everyone’s access to information and awareness,” Brian Shiro, Seismic Network Manager, the United States Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told The Quint.

What has changed in recent years is the widespread availability of the internet, which has increased everyone’s access to information and awareness.
Brian Shiro

The USGS website also tries to allay the fears, by stating on their website that, “A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase or decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.”

Did that help you shake-off your worries? Or do you feel that indeed the earthquakes are rising? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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